Friday, 22 July 2011

Soul Born (Soul Born - Book One)

Soul BornTitle: Soul Born
Author: Kevin James Breaux
Series: Soul Born Saga

Succeeded By: Blood Divided


Score: 3/10
Chart Entry Point: 37
How likely I am to read the next in the Series: I won't be.


I was drawn into this book by the cover art. I found it to be quite stunning. In fact, it's one of the few books that have made me go to the artist's online Gallery. Or even glance at the name of the artist on the copyright page. I know there are some people who do this with every book, but I'm not one of them, so it means quite a lot. After half an hour looking at Dan Dos Santos' Gallery, I remembered I had a book to read.

And I was disappointed. Especially for the first hundred and fifty pages or so. There are three major problems, which I will discuss separately below, but had I not being reviewing the book, I don't expect I would have finished it. I just couldn't see it going anywhere interesting. Which is where the first problem comes in...

Lack of Direction. The characters kept being in action situations, with not enough story. (SLIGHT SPOILER) In the first fifty pages alone, Karn starts in a battle, kind of, then has a fight with some guards, then breaks out with Opal's help, while in the meantime Opal herself has met the Warlord, as well as doing some kind of spell, and then Tala has had a fight as well. That's six action scenes in 50 pages. leaving almost no time for story development. And it continues like that for some time. Action scene after action scene, with no story to allow us to see where the action scenes fit in, and no overall plot. There's a vague sense of "Kill the Warlord", but I felt him to be an insignificant enemy until the last third of the book. Apparently I was wrong. There is also no back story, until it's required. Other's have praised this, but I find that it means the author is adding quick explanations when he realises you don't know something.

Secondly, It has a lack of motivation. There isn't a reason for a lot of things to happen - or at least, no good one. To take an example of the poor reasons - the fight with the guards that Karn has is because he left the house where he was being treated for Battle Wounds and Memory Loss, leaving behind a mage he had seen to be quite powerful, and went to the place where he had lost the battle, alone and injured. Surprisingly, he fought quite well. But he should have waited until Opal woke up (since it was her idea to go anyway...). That's an example from where there is only a small spoiler, but there are bigger things that happens, with less reasons. Especially regarding her mage teachers. There is also quite a few things that are said, that I don't see why they were said - either they were blatantly not true, or unrelated to the scene.

Finally, there was a fairly poor narrative. In English class, we were always told not to over-describe things, and to allow the reader to figure out how emotions go on their own - through Dialogue, not narrative. Breaux DOES over-describe, and this itself wouldn't be a problem, but the emotion thing is. Because we basically get told "Opal was Sad", "Karn was Happy", etc, we don't empathise properly with the characters. So we can't be too attached to them. We don't really care if they succeed or not. (That is, if we can figure out what they're trying to succeed in). This is especially true of their feelings of losing their homeland (This is actually a little backstory you do get - in between the fighting of those first fifty pages). I just couldn't find emotion for any of the characters. The narrative also has quite a few clich├ęs, which I won't point out.

There's a lot of negatives there, but this final point is positive. The underlying story is a good one. It can be hard to see until the very end, but looking back on it, it's quite a complex story. If it had been done differently, I could see myself liking it. It is interesting to see how similar, and hard to tell the difference between good and evil can be. So I enjoyed the story itself, it was just the getting to it that I didn't like.

There's a famous, often quoted warning about judging a book by it's cover. It's normally a metaphor for people, or various other things, but with this book I was reminded to take it literally as well. The cover is a beautiful piece of art, but the novel doesn't live up to the expectations it gave me. It is the first in a trilogy, but I doubt I'll read the next - however good the cover looks.

More Information

Main Protagonist(s):1 female, 1 male
Main Antagonist(s): 1 male + several males later
Main Relationships: Heterosexual, with mentions of Homesexual (female)
Genre: High Fantasy
Brief Synopsis:

All Opal wanted was to be respected as a wielder of magic, but her teachers passed her over time and time again. When a mysterious warlord embarks on a conquest to destroy the lands of Illyia Opal seizes an opportunity to step out from the shadows of her instructors and take her rightful spot among them. Tala, an alluring young elf, was banished from her tribe, hunted and nearly killed by the beasts that dwell in the deep forests, but more than anything else she is a survivor. Joining forces with an ancient elemental power Tala finds herself in the center of an unrelenting human war. She never wanted any of this. Flesh like leather and bone as strong as steel Karn, a veteran from the first kingdom to fall, is fueled by vengeance. While pushing ever headlong into battle Karn begins to recall memories of another life; ghosts that haunt his dreams. Through death of soul, their world is born. 

ISBN: 978-0-9830993
Website: Soul Born Blog
Amazon Link: UK | US
Pages: 306
Published: 2010
Publisher: Dark Quest Books

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